Players to Watch – Stanford Cardinal


October 6, 2012; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal inside linebacker Shayne Skov (11) celebrates after outside linebacker Chase Thomas (44) intercepted a pass against the Arizona Wildcats in overtime at Stanford Stadium. The Cardinal defeated the Wildcats 54-48. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Some programs are rebuilt and become a one or two year flash in the pan but the Stanford Cardinal are not one of those teams and a big reason is they have been built from the line of scrimmage back. Their offensive line has been as dominate as any in the past five years and with great recruiting classes the past two years upfront, they are looking to keep the tradition going.  When teams get a player from the Stanford program they are going to be fundamentally sound and players that love the game of football.

#54 David Yankey – OG
6’5” – 312 lbs. – JR

David Yankey

became the first true freshman since 2000 to start on the offensive line at Stanford before suffering a season ending injury. He recovered fully and has since dominated up front for the past two seasons for the Cardinal culminating in an All American season as a redshirt sophomore.

Strengths – Yankey is continues the list of offensive lineman that have come through the Cardinal program since the Harbaugh/Shaw era has started and may turn out to be the best of the bunch. Has shown versatility of dominating as a pulling guard and a fluid left tackle in the past two seasons. He has nimble feet, great reach, and uses hands very well. Balance is above average and allows him to pull and reach the second level fiercely.

Weaknesses – Yankey has the size to play left tackle but struggles versus edge pass rushers. He will need to develop more nimble feet to be able to pass block at the next level. His natural position is at the guard position but will be questioned due to his height if he is too tall to play the position.

Overall – Yankey is a versatile offensive lineman that has shown he can play four line positions during the past season but is naturally suited to play in a power running game at the guard position where he is at his best engaging the defender and drive blocking. One of the best pulling players with great footwork and ability to find players when attacking the second level but has struggled versus edge rushers when playing left tackle. Expect Yankey to have a very good season as the Cardinal do as well and move into the mid first round by the time the 2014 NFL Draft takes place.

#11 Shayne Skov – ILB
6’3” – 244 lbs. – SR

Shayne Skov came onto campus as a freshman and worked his way into the starting line-up for the last seven games. He has been the face of the Cardinal defense since that point. Skov recovered from major knee surgery to lead the Cardinal in 2012 in tackles with 83 and the emotional leader of the defense. After being eligible for the draft last year, Skov made the decision to come back for his senior year which was the correct one to show how well he plays on a fully healthy knee.

Strengths – Skov is an extremely physical linebacker that is at his best when he is attacking downhill where he is a sure tackler. He has a high football IQ that is displayed when diagnosing the play pre-snap and post snap putting him in position to make plays from sideline to sideline. Skov plays with a passion that is essential at the middle linebacker position and his teammates rally around him following his lead.

Weakness – An area that will be dissected this year more than any is Skov’s speed. His feet are very fluid but have stiff hips when needing to turn and run in pass coverage. His closing speed when in space is not top end which will be questioned when the NFL Draft Combine comes around much like Te’o and Minter’s were this past year.

Overall – Skov is a pro-typical middle linebacker for a physical defense. He is great between the tackles in shooting the gaps and shedding blocks to make a tackle on a ball carrier. His instincts make up for the lack of top end speed in covering from sideline to sideline and are rarely out of position. Skov is the unquestionable leader of the Cardinal football team. Expect to see a slim down Skov this football season after a full two years after major knee surgery and a stellar senior season for the Cardinal defense.